There is often confusion between the roles and purposes of legal process outsourcing (LPO) and legal service offshoring. The similarities between the two services cause some ambiguity, and some of the misunderstandings are contrived. Companies wishing to draw parallels between LPO and offshoring sometimes create a misperception they can leverage to their advantage.
In this article, National Legal Staffing Support explains the differences between LPO and legal service offshoring. They compare the intent of each and how they differ.
What is Offshoring?
Offshoring is the process of employing inexpensive overseas labor as a cost-saving measure. Manufacturing companies have used it for decades to reduce labor costs, even at the expense of quality. The practice of offshoring has grown to include many products and services over various industries, including legal staffing services.
To be clear, no one would suggest that there is anything inherently wrong with hiring employees that live in a different country or that contracting with foreign firms is a bad practice. The problem with offshoring arises from the common intent of the arrangement.
The express purpose of offshoring legal processes, or any other service for that matter, is to leverage a less skilled and less educated workforce willing to accept a lower standard of living. With that trade-off comes compromise.
At face value, a seemingly valid argument against the idea that compromise is inherent in offshoring is that if good standards are enforced and monitoring applied, there is no compromise in quality. While this is true, this arrangement is not typical of offshoring agreements. The additional costs of enforcing standards mean it no longer fits the strict definition of offshoring. It is now simply doing business with a foreign person or firm.
Foreign workers are every bit as capable as domestic workers. If given the same wages, benefits, and opportunities for experience and education, workers in any country can deliver quality services. But that’s not why offshoring is a rapidly growing practice. The appeal is to leverage the disparity between the two workforces.
What is LPO?
Legal process outsourcing is the practice of contracting with a third-party firm to leverage the ability to match legal tasks to workers with the appropriate skills, experience, and specialize expertise. It is the cost-saving antidote to having a $500/hr attorney engaged in document management tasks that could be done by someone at a tenth of that hourly rate, as an example.
A foreign firm could conceivably provide LPO services, but it still would not meet the definition of offshoring. LPO is designed to match tasks and skills and is not dependent on where the services are performed.
LPO is a cost-saving measure, but the savings come from running a lean law firm or corporate legal department where each task is delegated to precisely the best qualified and most efficient staff—not leveraging a disparity in human living conditions.
Why LPO is a better option than offshoring
Even setting aside the question of whether offshoring benefits foreign workers or exploits them, LPO is a better option. National Legal Staffing Support has built their firm’s success around the idea that the most efficient method to complete any task is to have the least expensive qualified person perform it. To benefit a law firm, the firm needs access to many workers with varying skill sets. LPO provides that capability.
If the person assigned the task is inexpensive but also unqualified, the result will be compromised. If the work is set to staff that is overqualified, all efficiency is lost. Finding that perfect match between the legal team and the legal task is the role of LPO services.
About National Legal Staffing Support
National Legal Staffing Support is a pioneer and leading provider of legal process outsourcing. Located in Boca Raton, Florida, the company offers front- and back-office support to experienced consumer protection attorneys specializing in debt resolution. National Legal Staffing Support offers paralegal services, document management solutions, pre-litigation support, pre-filing analysis, research, and client communication management.